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Kathy Marshack News

Don’t Be Blindsided by the Chaos in Your NT/ASD Relationship

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


Chaos is exactly how the partners in an ASD/NT relationship feel. They both are utterly confused by the other person’s reactions. The NT partner is usually unprepared for the emotional devastation that can result from their Aspie’s logic. And the Aspie partner can’t understand why the NT partner is upset. Chaos is defined as a state of utter confusion. Isn’t that exactly how the partners in an ASD/NT relationship feel? They both are utterly confused by the other person’s reactions. The NT partner is usually unprepared for the emotional devastation that can result from their Aspie’s logic. And the Aspie partner can’t understand why the NT partner is upset.

For example, here is a vignette from the lives of an ASD/NT couple I counseled in the past. Of course, their names have been changed to protect their privacy. See if you can relate to their confusion…

Marilyn, a NT wife and mother of four, was very excited when her Aspie husband, Eddie, finally agreed to spend money on a family vehicle. It was a fairly luxurious van with video screens for the kids in the back seats. Marilyn was so happy.

But then Eddie told her the new van was his to drive to work since they had traded in his car. His reasoned that her car was still in good shape, and he deserved the newer van. Marilyn conceded but asked if Eddie could turn over the van at the end of the work day or on the weekends, so that she could drive the kids to soccer practice and piano lessons. Not exactly what Marilyn had had in mind, but it was an acceptable compromise.

The next weekend she decided to use the new van to run the kids to a soccer match and a birthday party. To her surprise, Marilyn discovered that Eddie had removed all of the seats except for the driver’s seat! His reason? Since it was his car and he needed lots of space to carry all of his stuff, why bother with passenger seats? Zero degrees of empathy.

Rather than capitulating, detaching or compromising when you’re confronted with this type of Empathy Dysfunction, I suggest you prepare yourself to expect it. Somehow it is comforting to me that my life with Aspies is predictably chaotic. By surrendering to the reality that they will never get me – and that I cannot be prepared for every Aspie oddity – I can let things go when they become out of control.

This is an important healing step. We can only do so much, and changing autistics is not one of our gifts or responsibilities. We can't defend against the chaos either. Just about the time we have some well deserved rest, something always flares up, doesn't it?

If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, I invite you to sign up for the video conference entitled: CHAOS THEORY – Dr. Kathy’s Definition. It will be held on Tuesday, December 11th and Tuesday, December 18th. In this video conference, we’ll find out how to achieve this state of acceptance, so that we can move on to healing ourselves – not them – but the most important person in your life – YOU!

If you prefer 1:1 counseling and live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

This 3-Step Formula Outsmarts Anxiety and Improves Motivation

Monday, November 26, 2018


Make Impossible Possible; Unable Able; Unsolvable Solvable; Undoable DoableA task looms before you, and people are nagging you to get it done, but your anxiety makes it physically painful to even think about getting started. You have absolutely no motivation.

Have you ever felt like that? People with ADHD, depression, anxiety disorders and other emotional or mental illness deal with this challenge every day. How can you overcome these feelings and get your motivation back?

Turn the task into something that feels good! Learn to make it meaningful and worth while for yourself. Using this simple formula will help you do that...

Success Activity+Clock+Reward=Renewed Motivation

1. Identify your Success Activities. Start the day by doing something you like that is rewarding and gives you a feeling of accomplishment and success, but keep it within a 15-minute time frame, so you don’t get sidetracked. Enjoy it thoroughly then move on to a task on your to-do list.

A Success Activity might be reading, meditating, calling a friend, exercising, or working on a hobby. Make sure you have successes, no matter how small, every day. What would your list of Success Activities include?

How can you add one of your Success Activities to the hard task at hand? This will turn your “I have to” task into an “I want to” task. What one thing can you do to make each task important and fun?

For example: washing dishes. What one thing do you enjoy about washing dishes? Do you like the scent of the soap? How about the warmth of the sudsy water? Could you meditate at the same time? Play music? Call a friend? If you love dancing, tell yourself you’re going to rinse and put 25 items in the dishwasher, then you get to dance around the kitchen as a reward. Continue this process until the dishes are completed.

2. Compete against the clock. Break the task down into manageable pieces. What can you do in 2 minutes? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? If it took you 10 minutes last time, can you do it in 8 minutes this time? How can the task be divided into timed increments?

3. Reward yourself. It doesn’t work to force yourself or try harder. Giving yourself a reward has better results. What will your reward be?

Use this formula to tap into your strength for doing things differently. Get creative. Make it fun, interesting, and rewarding so it works for you. When anxiety robs you of living a full, satisfying life, it might also be helpful to consult with a mental health professional. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

How to Clear Away Brain Fog and Regain Mental Clarity

Friday, November 16, 2018


Brain fog is when your mind feels like there’s a wad of cotton blocking your ability to comprehend information; some people describe it as feeling fuzzy or disconnected.Does your mind feel like there’s a wad of cotton blocking your ability to comprehend information – you can’t think, calculate, or remember familiar words? You may even feel like you need to tell people to slow down and speak more slowly, because you’re just not getting it. Some people describe it as feeling fuzzy headed or disconnected. If so, it’s quite likely you’re experiencing brain fog.

There are a number of causes of brain fog. Some of the most common are:

  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Food allergies
  • Chemical exposure
  • Depression
  • Medication side effects
  • Medical conditions like MS, fibromyalgia, iron deficiency anemia, hypothyroidism, or menopause

Treatment for brain fog depends on the cause. If you suspect your brain fog is connected with a medical condition, seek the assistance of your primary care physician immediately.

Making some simple lifestyle changes can help reduce or get rid of brain fog if it’s not caused by a medical condition. Here are five ways to lift brain fog naturally…

1. Avoid toxins. You’re already feeling poisoned so why add to your load by smoking tobacco or marijuana, consuming alcohol and abusing drugs?

2. Eat brain healthy food and drink water. Don’t skip meals. Avoid inflammatory producing items like saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and sugar. Choose lean proteins, healthy fats, and lots of beans, fruits and vegetables.

3. Support your brain as it cleans itself. You need plenty of restorative sleep to allow the brain time to clear out wastes from the day’s activities.

4. Get moving. Physical activity increases your blood flow to your brain. More blood means more oxygen, which stimulate growth of new cells and blood vessels in the brain.

5. Enjoy the sunshine. We need the full spectrum light from the sun to get our daily dose of Vitamin D, as well as, enabling our bodies to produce energy required for cell repair and regeneration.

Many people have found relief from brain fog, as well as improved overall health by making these lifestyle changes. If you’ve tried and can’t seem to make these lifestyle changes on your own, I can help you develop holistic strategies that will support your total mind/body wellness. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Marketers Are Using Empathy to Get Your Money

Monday, November 12, 2018


Marketers Are Using Empathy to Get Your Money | Kathy MarshackBig corporations spend huge amounts of money to collect all the data they can about your buying and browsing habits. The better they know you, the more they can tailor their marketing message to appear like they really get you, so you trust them enough to pull out your credit card and spend money on their product. Now they are actively using empathy in the creation of their marketing campaigns.

While we think of empathy as a means for deeply connecting with another person in a beneficial way, marketers are using empathy as a marketing weapon against us. A number of online article titles that I grabbed from a Google search highlight this point:

  • Empathy Is the Key To Great Marketing Campaigns - Forbes
  • 8 Genius Examples of Empathetic Content Marketing in Action - Hubspot
  • How brands are using empathy to enhance marketing - Econsultancy
  • A Brand's Guide to Empathy: Marketing's Latest Buzzword
  • Empathetic Marketing: How To Connect With Your Customers ...
  • Empathetic marketing: focus on listening to your customers - Think with Google
  • How To Do Effective Content Marketing: Use Empathy - Column Five Marketing

To further show how they are using empathy as a way to manipulate us, I stumbled across an article in The Atlantic about a recent Marketing to Moms Conference. According to them, “American mothers are estimated to make the vast majority of household purchasing decisions and collectively spend more than $2 trillion per year.” So the attendees of this conference put their thinking caps on to discover what moms worry about. They did this for the purpose of tweaking their ads to make their products appear empathic, as solutions for those specific worries.

But I wonder...would these big corporations be concerned about a mother’s worry, if they didn’t make money? I don’t think so, do you? Their empathy is driven by their own self-interest, which doesn’t sound like real empathy at all.

I’m not saying marketing your business is wrong. I do it all the time. But to call it empathy marketing is a misnomer. True empathy, what I like to call Radiant Empathy, is caring for another, without there being an expectation for reciprocity. It’s not dependent on getting something back. A person helps another just because it’s part of being a good human being, and that feels good all by itself.

As I promised a few months ago, I’m working on an online source so you can learn to enhance your Radiant Empathy skills. While it’s taking longer than expected, I should be able to roll it out within the next few months. Does that excite you? Leave me a comment on my Facebook page that you’re curious to know what it’s all about.

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and would like some 1:1 time for developing Radiant Empathy skills, please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Fatigue Is Normal in ASD/NT Relationships

Thursday, November 08, 2018


Fatigue Is Normal in ASD/NT Relationships Why are you always tired? I mean, bone weary exhausted? When you live with someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, this becomes our normal state. Emotional abuse, lack of respect for boundaries, no reciprocity, fighting for a scrap of time for yourself, and many more issues all lead to a constant state of fatigue.

I’m happy to say that many NT’s in my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, are actually pretty healthy, because they’ve learned how to practice self care. (NT refers to the partner without Asperger’s Syndrome. It stands for neuro typical.) Even so, fatigue sets in. Why? It’s fatiguing because no one is really designed for the daily emotional stress that comes with living with someone who doesn’t fully understand empathy. I suspect it takes years off your life.

According to a 2017 study, “Research and insight into NT/AS relationships” by Faaas, Inc and JA Morgan BEd Grad Dip, “fatigue, resilience and (non-productive) coping were all significant predictors of partners’ anxiety and depression.” (You can read their PDF Report here.)

Interestingly, NTs are not the only ones experiencing fatigue. People with Asperger’s Syndrome also experience a great deal of fatigue, because they have to consciously process things with their intellect, as their brain doesn’t do it automatically.

If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, I invite you to join the low cost video conference entitled: Fatigue Is Normal in ASD/NT Relationships. It will be help on Tuesday, November 13th and again on Tuesday, November 27th. In this video conference, we'll get serious about self care and practice boundary setting. Setting strong boundaries with our Aspies is as important as taking time out for yourself.

Would you like personalized help in developing boundaries in your relationship? If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

Smart and Autistic: What is Very High Functioning Autism?

Monday, November 05, 2018


Smart autistic still can't put the puzzle pieces of empathy togetherHigh-functioning autism isn’t an official medical term or diagnosis. It’s an informal one some people use when they talk about people on the ASD Spectrum. Notably, they can function independently in today’s world, yet their social skills are lacking. And even though the American Psychiatric Association grouped autism related disorders on a Spectrum, I still refer to high functioning autism as Aspergers, since that is how many of my clients first learned to identify this disorder.

Recently, I began noticing a new trend. Many of the members of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD

meetup are saying their Aspie is "very high functioning." Somehow this is a way NTs are separating their Aspie loved one from the rest of those with Asperger Syndrome. However, the definition of Asperger Syndrome is that the autistic person is "very high functioning." This is the quintessential quality that distinguishes them from other autistics.


I think the notion that our Aspies are "very high functioning" is more than a misunderstanding of the diagnosis. Rather it appears to be a way NTs seek to comprehend the chaotic, yet brilliant mind of their Aspie. Frankly, though I don't think this helps. It leaves you stuck believing your Aspie has more going for him or her than they actually do. Brilliant or not, they lack empathy. Reciprocity in the relationship is nearly non-existent. So it makes more sense to credit your Aspies for what they are good at. But they are not high functioning when it comes to relationships.

Would you like to join our discussion on this topic? If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, I invite you to join us for a free international teleconference on Thursday, November 15th. It’s entitled: Smart and Autistic.

If you prefer 1:1 counseling and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.



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